Fracture path transitions in peels tests of medium carbon steel spot welds

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Fracture path transition, from interfacial fracture to a pulled button, in peel tests of spot welds in SAE 1039 steel was evaluated to determine the controlling material properties. Welds were tested in the as welded condition and after tempering at various temperatures to develop a range of hardness and strength in the weld metal. Two transitions were found, from complete interfacial fracture to partial interfacial and from partial interfacial fracture to a pulled button. Samples tempered at less than 350 °C exhibited complete interfacial fracture while those tempered at 500 °C or higher pulled full buttons. Each transition was accompanied by a large increase in the energy absorbed during fracture.

Both partial and complete interfacial fracture occurred by intergranular fracture along prior austenite grain boundaries. Optical microscopy utilizing a tint etch indicated that austenite existed as films on prior austenite grain boundaries of samples tempered at less than 500 °C and TEM confirmed that these films were austenite. Weld metal toughness was found to control the fracture path. If fracture initiation was delayed until the applied load caused plastic deformation of the coupons pulled button fracture occurred. Fracture initiation prior to plastic deformation of the coupons resulted in interfacial or partial interfacial fractures. A small secondary hardening peak was observed in samples tempered at 450 °C. Secondary hardening, which normally results from alloy carbide precipitation, was due to AlN precipitation in this aluminum killed plain carbon steel.